How Long is an Acupuncture Treatment

Acupuncture and Moxa for Back Pain

Acupuncturists have a choice in terms of how long the acupuncture treatment is. Different times have different clinical effects.

Most often, the acupuncture needles are retained in the acupuncture points for 20-30 minutes.  Traditionally we say it takes 30 minutes for the qi, the body’s energy, to circulate in the channels.

But if it is an acute situation, such as a back spasm, it is generally better to leave the acupuncture needles in for 15 minutes or less.  This is because the muscles will relax quicker in an acute injury like a back spasm.

When the energy is weak, what we call qi deficiency, it is better to leave the needles in for a longer period of time, such as 35 or 40 minutes in some cases.  This provides and opportunity for the body to work on improving the energy.

When using electro-acupuncture, as I often do for pain, 20 minutes has been shown to be the optimal amount of time for pain relief and reduction of inflammation.

Joseph Alban, L.Ac.
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